One trick I learned that changed everything I thought I knew about drawing!

Have you ever experienced a paradigm shift?

Have you ever had that moment where everything you saw something changed drastically, and was replaced with a completely and entirely new way of looking at it?
That’s what I experienced after reading the book “Drawing on the Artist Within” when the author, Betty Edwards, challenged my way of seeing what I was looking at when I was drawing.
It’s been years since I read it, but I remember clearly the exercise she instructed in the book.
Betty was able to make me realize that even though I was “seeing” everything I was drawing, I wasn’t really SEEING it as it truly is.
What I realized was that in my brain, I have images that I have created in my mind for all of the different things I’m looking at. It’s kind of like my own personal file cabinet of memories – not very accurate memories, apparently!
For example, if I were to think of an eye, I would have wanted to draw an oval shape with a circle inside the oval. Very simplistic and inaccurate.
If I were to think of hair, I would want to draw individual hairs in strands from the top of the head…maybe if it was curly hair, I would have drawn many scribbly circles to indicate that.

Now, what I learned from the book was this intriguing exercise in which you turn the picture you are drawing upside down!  

This idea was so new to me that I was really excited to try it out.
There are a few different example images she used in the book to try drawing upside down. I think they were chosen specifically because unless turned right side up, it’s kind of difficult to make sense of what you’re drawing.
For example, here is one she chose by Picasso (Portrait of Igor Stravinsky):
1150_stravinsky433988.jpg
What happened when I drew the first upside down picture, it was like a lightbulb moment happened in my mind. I was absolutely dumbfounded when I turned the picture right side up and realized how accurate it was drawn on the paper.
I knew that if it had been right side up when I had drawn it, the proportions would have been completely wrong. Why was it that I was able to draw it so well when it was turned upside down?  What could possibly account for that?
I felt this sense of awe of recognition of the fact that all along, I had been doing it wrong!

All along, I had never been SEEING what I was drawing.

I had been only seeing what I had stored away in my memory and was translating on paper!
But NOW, what I started recognizing was that EVERYTHING – and I mean EVERYTHING – that we see in life is all the same. It all consists of the same lights, darks, shapes, and lines!
Once a  master this one thing- SEEING things the way they really are- you will be able to translate what you see on paper with confidence!
Let me show you some examples of one of my drawings of a face before learning this technique (2001):
2001drawing
Notice some things in the picture above. The eyes are almost symmetrical, which is almost never the case in real life.
The top of the head is smaller than it would be in reality and my hairs are all drawn individually.
There is no depth or dimension in this drawing at all…it is very flat!  I didn’t really look at my reference picture as much as I should have but mostly drew from my memory of what I believed her face should look like.
My drawing skills began to improve that year as a result of this small but life-changing experiment. This next picture is also from 2001. (I practiced with magazines such as National Geographic all of the time):
IMG_2441
Over the years, I kept drawing and kept practicing and learning from my mistakes:
fi11
2014
IMG_5169(1)
2017
I’m still learning and progressing, but it’s so much fun to look back and see improvement. And I know without a doubt, if not for this simple experiment to draw upside down, I possibly never would have drawn a single face.
For years, this is how I used to draw, because even though my dream was to be able to draw faces, I falsely believed that I “just didn’t have the talent for that.”  I can’t tell you how many times I had repeated this to myself.
img_2439.jpgIMG_2438
If you’re ever telling yourself that you can’t do something you have always wanted to do, stop doing that right now.
Change that thought process and realize that you can do so much more than you realize!

I have a challenge for you!

I would like to challenge you to find a picture -you could go outside and take a picture of a flower, some still life on your table, maybe find a postcard or whatever it is that you would like to draw…and turn it upside down, and see how well you do!
I would also really love it if you would share your drawing here and let me know if this exercise has helped you as much as it helped me!

38 Comments

  1. We are o excited to learn. Bella is really wanting to be an art teacher

  2. Hi Bethany! Awesome idea. Hey I hope you don’t mind me making a recommendation. It would be awesome if you had an email sign up. I use mail chimp because it’s free for up to 2000 subscribers. You could also attract subscribers with a Freebie maybe a sample chapter from your book or a quick checklist. For instance, the post you created about supplies. Turn that into a checklist pdf that people could print.
    If you need any help, let me know! My blog is all about helping ppl grow their email list and business but I’m still working at it too.
    Love this idea. There’s so much you could do with this so yay!!

    • I just realized the link is wrong! Ack. My website is https://michellebuck.com if you need some ideas.

    • Michelle, thank you SO much for the advice. I am willing to learn whatever I can to build this blog. I will look into mail chimp, and I love your idea about creating a PDF for the resources list. I will definitely get started on that. I will be sure to ask you questions if I get stumped- I am still fairly new to this, and I can see from looking at your blog how well you are doing!

      • And it’s sooo overwhelming starting out so just do what you can. Otherwise it can be a time suck lol. I’m so happy for you!! I think you’ll do great!

        • Yes, so far it has definitely taken a lot of time and I’ve been doing tons of research and I am hoping to eventually be successful with it. When did you start your blog? I would love to hear more about it. Feel free to message me on Facebook anytime!

  3. Wow! This is amazing! Who knew???

  4. Thanks for the article post.Really thank you! Great.tadalafil

  5. If some one desires to be updated with hottest technologies afterward
    he must be go to see this web page and be up to date everyday.

  6. Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to understand
    a lot about this, like you wrote the guide in it or something.

    I think that you simply can do with a few percent to drive the message house
    a little bit, but instead of that, that is fantastic blog.
    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  7. Ridiculous story there. What occurred after? Take care!

  8. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always
    kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him.

    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  9. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  10. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re
    working with? I’m going to start my own blog soon but
    I’m having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to
    ask!

  11. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted
    to say excellent blog!

  12. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that
    I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  13. I read this article fully about the difference of most
    recent and previous technologies, it’s remarkable article.

  14. You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I have read a single thing like this before.
    So nice to discover another person with some genuine thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this
    up. This website is something that’s needed on the web,
    someone with a little originality!

  15. Hi there every one, here every person is sharing these
    kinds of know-how, therefore it’s nice to read this
    weblog, and I used to pay a visit this webpage daily.

  16. I am actually glad to glance at this weblog posts which
    contains tons of helpful information, thanks for providing
    these information.

  17. Usá el filtro “Envío con normalidad” para localizar los
    productos que te podemos proseguir enviando mientras que te cuidás.

  18. I just want to tell you that I am new to weblog and really liked you’re web-site. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You amazingly come with good well written articles. With thanks for sharing with us your web-site.

  19. Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

  20. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  21. I love looking through a post that can make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  22. Made to measure curtains… […]check out the sites listed below, worth a read for interiors and rugs enthusiasts[…]…

  23. Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

  24. Hello! I’ve been reading your web site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!

  25. I was reading some of your articles on this internet site and I think this internet site is very informative ! Continue putting up.

  26. I?m impressed, I have to say. Truly rarely do I encounter a blog that?s both enlightening and also entertaining, and let me tell you, you have actually hit the nail on the head. Your suggestion is outstanding; the concern is something that insufficient individuals are talking smartly about. I am extremely pleased that I came across this in my search for something relating to this.

  27. Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  28. Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  29. Largest lover messages were made to share it with your and gives honour of the bride and groom. Very sound systems facing unnecessary throngs of people should take into account each of our valuable concept of all presenting, which is one’s trailer. best man toasts

  30. Thanks, I’ve been seeking for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve located so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*